Kaavya Viswanathan’s story reminds me of one of my own. From the fifth to the tenth grade I was in a boarding school. According to my teachers and principal everything about the ‘outside world’ was bad. Books, movies, clothes, powders, perfumes, soaps….everything!...(those!!! are stories worth a read!!..will post them by and by)
Enid Blyton was bad….very very bad. It was only in hushed whispers at night that I would tell stories from the books I had read during the holidays to my friends who in exchange took my brinjal curry that was forced on us every Wednesday.
On one such night, four of us decided to write a book of our own. There we would have all the fun the Famous Five had, we would pack picnic baskets full of currant buns and ginger beer and cherry pie and strawberry shortcake and …..oh so much more! Then we could run away to an island right in the middle of the sea…after that we would discover a secret passage when one of us stumbled over a rock that turned out to be covering a rusty iron ring that opened to reveal a deep gaping hole.
So every night we wrote out a chapter. Soon we found that at least two pages per chapter were devoted to the food we ate. Was it enough? Janani could come up with at least ten more dishes that could be included. Between mouthfuls of lemon pie we found treasures long forgotten by pirates. We made campfires and dreamt of the many adventures that awaited us the next day.
In the English class , one day, Lakshmi wanted to add a new twist to the story and began to write when the teacher demanded to see what was being written in a notebook half covered with her uniform and half under another book.
Fear they say motivates. It motivated us to tear the book apart before she saw it. Once she knew what that notebook as all about , she was furious. Furious because we thought she would punish us and the principal would throw us out of the school. ‘You did not even give me a chance to have a look at it, silly girls” she said…..
That was long ago….today I hear that she alone, in her class library has a row of Enid Blytons. Otherwise my school is just the same….